U.S. Bank Stadium has added additional local craft beers for the event.
Alcohol and sports are a common pairing. And March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. But, oddly enough, alcohol has actually never been allowed to be consumed at the Final Four — that is, until now.
The decision to add booze to the season’s biggest college basketball games is actually no surprise. At the beginning of the 2017-18 season, the NCAA suggested that alcohol could be made available as soon as the 2019 Final Four. They were right. Attitudes towards beer have been shifting at college campuses across the country, with everything from officially licensed beers to courses in brewing becoming practically commonplace in recent years. And a couple of years ago, the NCAA decided it was time to adapt as well.
“Prior to a policy change in 2017, NCAA members did not allow alcohol sales to the general public during championships,” Stacey Osburn, Director of Public Relations, explained to me via email. “The NCAA first began selling alcohol to the general public through a pilot program at the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series. Data from those two events show that sales had either a positive or neutral impact on the fans’ experience and no detrimental effects on the experience of student-athletes participating in the events.”
Those tests paved the way for one of the NCAA’s biggest events to finally allow beer and wine sales, and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis — home to the Minnesota Vikings and host of this year’s Final Four — was ready to serve, offering up not only its usual options but also a large selection of first-time drinks for college basketball fans.
So one thing is for certain: People attending the Final Four won’t go thirsty. Lisa Niess, Marketing and Communications Manager for U.S. Bank Stadium, told me that three dozen different beers, ciders, hard seltzers, and wines — including both big name and independent craft brands — are available. Local beers being sold in the stadium for the first time include Fair State Vienna Lager, Uteplis Springbok, Insight Splendid Moose, and Liftbridge Farmgirl alongside new additions 312 Goose Island Wheat, Firestone Union Jack, Henry's Sparkling Hard Water, Barley Johns Old 8 Porter and wines from Darkhorse and Bartles and Jaymes.
Meanwhile, U.S. Bank Stadium already has a large numbers of beers and ciders (including plenty more local brews): Miller Lite, Coors Light, Blue Moon, Redd's Apple Ale, Leinenkugel's, Crispin Cider, Crispin Rose Cider, Kona Lager, Surly Furious IPA, Surly Citra, Surly Hell, Summit EPA, Summit Saga IPA, Grainbelt Nordeast, Finnegan's Irish Ale, Third Street MN Gold, Sociable Ciderwerks Freewheeler, Insight Trollway IPA, Castle Danger Castle Dream, Fair State IPA, Bent Paddle IPA, Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Bauhaus Wonderstuff, Sharp's N/A, and Schell's Firebrick.
As a result, it’s not just the NCAA that’s come a long way in accepting alcohol: With such a large selection on such a large stage, sporting events, in general, have embraced a new era of stadium beer — no longer dominated by just a handful of big names.